Friday, August 16, 2013

Taking your pets to Germany, pt.1

Receiving orders to Germany was followed by a ton of "oh gosh,.. What now?" Moments for my husband and me. What do you do with the car, the stuff, everything. One thing was a non-negotiable for us, and that was taking our pets.

Now, we knew at the outset that this would be expensive and time consuming. See, we have a giant breed dog. Our JB is a Great Dane. She is small for a Dane, weighing in at right around 95 lbs. This limits any travel/pcs plans we ever have. She can't fly on most commercial aircraft- her plus a crate is easily over 100 lbs. Luckily, as a military family we can take (and are urged to take) the Patriot Express, which is a military operated flight. Their weight limit is 150 lbs, which we will be skirting awfully close to.  As I've done my research, I've found there aren't many options for those of us with big babies. :) there's not much out there, so I'm compilining all I know into this post, in hopes to help someone in the future!

First- you have options. Know that no matter what, it will be expensive. There is no such thing as shipping a pet OCONUS for cheap.

Option 1- using a service like pet flight. We got a quote from them. For both of our pets (we also have a cat), they wanted over $3,000. This took care of a lot of the things for us- they'd handle the crates, make sure we have the right paperwork, etc. They'd fly the pets into Frankfurt, and we could pick them up there.  You are definitely paying for convenience. If you have kids to wrangle or you just don't want to deal with the red tape, this is definitely a good way to go.

Option 2- travel with them. This is the option we chose. In the long run, it is cheaper, plus they'll be on the plane with us. We chose to fly them both in cargo. Our cat could technically fly in the cabin with us, but she is typically not a good traveler. (Read: she mews every 5 seconds in the car) I didn't want to find out in the midst of a 9 hr flight that she wasn't good in planes either. Our crate costs are probably right around $300. $260 of that is the dogs crate. We got them both petmate sky kennels. They come with all the stickers and bowls they need to fly.  It is costing us to rent a car, though we got a great deal from USAA on that! The post vet does the required checks and paperwork for free, so we save there. There will be "excess baggage" fees for both of them, and a mandatory veterinary examination upon landing in Germany. We don't know what that bottom line looks like yet, but I am keeping a running total. I will share that information once we have it!

There is a third option. You could rehome your pets for the duration of your overseas tour. Some send their pets to live with their grandparents or trusted friends. If they are up for that, it's a great option! I imagine it would be tough to be without your pet for so long, but you know that they are being taken care of and that they are very loved. Plus, you can get them when you go back to the states.The other option is to rehome them in other ways- Craigslist, rescues, local shelters, etc. if this is the route you take, you are giving up what I believe to be a family member. I recommend this only as an absolute last resort.

I'll keep you all apprised of what happens from here on out! Our next step is the girls' appointment for our pre-screen and health certificates for the flight!


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